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Thursday, November 22, 2018

Adult English Language Learners Get Digital Education | Education - Seven Days

Jacques Moninga's favorite English language instructor is Alisha Ivelich. The Congolese native has never talked to her nor met her, but he said he's learned a lot from watching her EnglishClass101 videos on YouTube, continues Seven Days.

Technology 4 Tomorrow class at Winooski’s Champlain Mill
Photo: Courtesy Of Raichle Farrelly

"Yes, I can say [hers are] the best," said Moninga, who also speaks French, Kibembe, Lingala and Swahili.

He used to watch the YouTube videos on his smartphone. But since a friend gave him her old laptop, he has relished watching on a bigger screen. When the polyglot has questions, he writes them down and waits until Monday evenings to discuss them with his other English teacher, Raichle Farrelly.

For the last couple of years, Farrelly, assistant professor of applied linguistics at Saint Michael's College, has been teaching English to adult students with refugee backgrounds. While many organizations provide similar community English classes, Farrelly's offering on Monday evenings in Winooski's Champlain Mill is unique because she required that every student be a Swahili speaker...

About two months ago, Farrelly added a new component to her class: tech education. Her students already had smartphones and were proficient with WhatsApp, the messaging and voice-over-internet-protocol service, which allows them to connect with relatives still in refugee camps in Tanzania.

But digital literacy is more than simply using social media and apps. Most of Farrelly's students don't have a laptop or know how to use one...

Some adult refugees in Vermont not only have to overcome the language barrier, they also have to address the skills gap as they seek to integrate into the workforce.

While young newcomers get a lot of support from schools and other service providers, their parents are the "sacrificed generation," noted Farrelly. They perform unskilled and low-paying jobs and pin their hopes for upward mobility on their children.

Her students currently hold jobs that don't require that they be tech savvy. They're housekeepers, custodians or production workers. They're also working so much that they don't have time to learn enough English, Farrelly noted. Some are not even literate in their native language. 

Source: Seven Days